Former Fujicolor employee pleads guilty to environmental crime

Gerald Lakota, a former employee of Fujicolor Processing, pleaded guilty to willfully concealing and covering up a material fact in reports required to be filed under the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department announced.

According to a plea agreement, while employed at Fujicolor’s film developing facility in Terrell, Texas, Lakota was responsible for environmental compliance at the plant, which included preparing and submitting the plant’s wastewater Discharge Monitoring Reports.

In order to ensure compliance with the plant’s monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports, Lakota selectively screened or “cherry-picked” samples of the facility’s wastewater effluent. Samples that were out of compliance with the facility’s pre-treatment permit for silver were not reported on the Discharge Monitoring Reports as required by the facility’s permit. The film finishing process at the facility generated a significant amount of process wastewater that contained silver.

Using this sampling process, Lakota falsely presented the analysis of the final “good” samples as representative of the facility’s discharge, when he knew this was not true, and created the false impression that the facility was meeting its effluent limits required by the discharge permit.

Lakota was charged in the Northern District of Texas and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. He faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years of supervised release.